By Adam Forrest, Director of Product Marketing

Today, we’re kicking off a new section of our blog that looks at the top industry stories that caught our eye over the past week.

1. Fire Phone Immerses Users in Amazon’s World

Summary: We’ve all be waiting for the rumored Amazon phone to become a reality, and now it is. In this article, Reporter David Streitfeld talks about Amazon’s phone, the Fire, the product of four years of research and development. The new device will offer Amazon fans the chance to live in an Amazon-themed world, where just about every element can be identified, listed, ranked, shared and, of course, ordered.

My thoughts: Coincidentally, I received an email from Amazon this week letting me know that my Amazon Prime membership has been extended to include music streaming. The success of free shipping, free streaming movies and now free music as part of the Prime membership, illustrates how Amazon has built a complete shopping and entertainment experience for customers – a very compelling reason to switch to the Fire phone, not to mention the convenience of one annual payment. For retailers, however, this means yet another OS to think about in terms of deploying shopping experiences. Only time will tell if this will take off, so for now, retailers’ best bet is to continue to utilize responsive and adaptive web design to handle all form factors.

2. 4 Ways Same-day Delivery Will Transform Retailers

Summary: Same-day delivery has been an area of interest for many online retailers as they look to differentiate their offerings from competitors’. Target, Google and Amazon are just some of the organizations rolling out same-day delivery options in major cities throughout the U.S. If successful, this capability has the potential to completely transform retail as the variety of products retailers can sell to consumers will significantly expand, both on and offline.

My thoughts: Today’s consumers are getting harder to please, especially as their expectations continue to sky rocket around experience and service. Consumers are impatient and want what they want, when they want it. It’s only a matter of time before same day delivery will become the expectation for all brands and retailers. Store-based retailers will have a huge advantage here since each of the store locations can become a delivery point to get products to the customer faster. Enabling this capability, however, will require significant changes and investment to legacy ecommerce, order management and supply chain systems, so it’s not something to take lightly. As the article above points out, there are a number of organizations that have failed in their efforts. Those who can be first to market with agile systems will reap huge market share rewards. 

3. Tis’ The Season To Prep Your Site For The Holidays

Summary: During holiday shopping season 2013, retailers saw a big shift toward ecommerce activities. Black Friday sales, for example, dipped 13.2% over the previous year, whereas Cyber Monday sales increased by 20%. This points to the importance of retailers getting ready now for the 2014 holiday shopping season by taking a look at their commerce platforms, merchandising capabilities and customer service.

My thoughts: Last year, we saw pre-Black Friday sales happening weeks before the actual date as a result of significant competition from retailers to reach consumers better and faster than ever before. In fact, this competition has stretched the holiday season into early Fall, forcing retailers to develop holiday plans much earlier in the year. To that point, though it may feel like retailers just wrapped up a brutal holiday season, it’s time to start thinking holiday shopping 2014. To be successful this year, don’t just jump into development phases. Take the time to first review your analytics, evaluate your KPIs from the last holiday season and explore why certain merchandising strategies worked and why others didn’t. It’s also important to look at trending data to help develop the right strategy for your customers. One data point, for example, could be: how did mobile usage grow during the holiday season last year and in what way does that affect this coming holiday season? Remember to keep your customer preferences in mind, as well.

4. Is Google Glass The Next Big Money Maker?

Summary: According to the Trefis Team (a contributor channel through Forbes), Google Glass has the potential to be a huge game changer. This includes revolutionizing the hardware industry as it relates to wearable tech, delivering relevant information to consumers based on their preferences, and offering targeted local ads – it’s all about data compilation for a better experience.

My thoughts: Wearable tech has incredible potential as a revenue stream because it has the ability to inject additional media and content during the normal course of the life. Wearing Google Glass is different than walking around with a smartphone in front of your face because it is less disruptive and allows a consumer to continue doing what is necessary. And as Google streamlines its capabilities, retailers can leverage a variety of location-based technologies to encourage consumers nearby to stop in their store by pushing out relevant local ads to engage them. The possibilities are truly endless. In fact, we may see retailers exploring ways to incorporate wearables into the location-based technology deployments from last year to further enhance the consumer shopping experience this coming holiday season.

5. What Does The Future Of Retail Look Like? Four Young Companies Provide A Glimpse

Summary: In this article, Contributor J.J. Colao talks about four companies that caught his eye at the Launch Beacon conference earlier this week. The event focuses on trends in ecommerce, retail, payments and location-based technology.

My thoughts: It is clear that the future is all about catering to the consumer in a way that is minimally disruptive, yet provides all the information a consumer needs in a timely way. From creating digital displays in the store so shoppers no longer have to talk to store associates, to self-ordering and paying at restaurants, it is clear the consumer’s time is becoming more valuable and hard to access; many new technologies are all trying to capitalize on that trend.